My house was surrounded by forest, where game was found in plenty. Naturally, forest became my second playground, a paradise of experience and a sheer heaven. Consequently, all denizens of the forest became my friends.
Later on, I began to learn more and more about those places where the man-eating tigers and leopards killed hundreds of people and established a reign of terror in this part of the country, now known all over the world as Uttaranchal. I, therefore, decided to visit those places where these man-eaters lived, and see with my own eyes and photograph those exact spots where they had been shot. Perseverance and hard work has no substitute. After making painstaking efforts and spending many days and nights all alone in the dense forest, I became the first Indian journalist to have visited and photographed those very places where real action had taken place. The forests of Uttaranchal, therefore, form the backdrop of my narratives.
Forests are the lungs of the world. They contain some of the most vibrant ecosystems on the planet; they are home to a wondrous variety of birds, animals, insects and plants. Every bird, animal and insect has its allotted place in the scheme of nature, which it performs with regularity and precision. As the sun rises in the east, all the birds of the forest, which have a song to sing, sing it to the glory of God. Birds like bulbuls, parrots, peacocks, and orioles beautify nature. Sibias, koels, parakeets, robins, skylarks and nightingales fill nature with melody. Hawks, eagles, crows and falcons keep balance in nature. Animals like deer, langurs, monkeys and antelopes beautify nature, while tigers, leopards, jackals and bears help in maintaining the balance. In nature, there is neither repining nor sorrow. They toil not, nor do they spin, yet they are all happy.
My main aim in writing this book is to create awareness in the minds of people about the role of ecology, and champion the cause of nature to the world which is oblivious to the beauty and wonders of the animal kingdom. The knowledge of the jungle can't be absorbed at a go; it is a lifelong process. As I am reaching the sunset of my life, I feel I have learnt nothing from nature, for the whole nature is before me to be explored.
Alas! the market forces in their greed to make a quick buck are felling trees mercilessly, destroying the habitats of millions of species, sending them to the verge of extinction. If we fail to raise our fingers against the ecocide and the killing of these beautiful animals such as tigers and leopards, it is possible that these species may be wiped out, and eventually become a part of history books or museums.
Lastly, the book mirrors my lifelong association with forest and wildlife, especially the forests of Bhabar and Terai area where once game roamed at will, and tigers and leopards were found in large numbers. First, you reach the town of Tanakpur, and ten kilometres away is Thulighat. From here, a goat track strewn with boulders and passing along the bank of the Sarda river takes you to Chuka village via Kaladhunga forest bungalow. Four kilometres in the south-east and on the bank of the Ladhya river is the place where the Chuka man-eater was shot. A little away in the east of Chuka is Thak village where the Thak man-eater was killed. From Tanakpur go to Champawat, now a district headquarter. In the east of Champawat is Chawra village. Here Gopal Singh Vohar, the pradhan and my old friend, will show you the spot where the man-eater of Champawat was sent to the happy hunting grounds. Around twenty kilometres away is Thola Kot village. Convey my regards to Sundar Singh and he will show you the wyran field and the place where the Talla Des man-eater was shot. On reaching Almora, go to Panwalona village, climb two ridges, cross the Panar river and you are in the domain of the Panar man-eater, who had killed more than 400 human beings in this area before falling to the gun shots of Jim Corbett. About twenty kilometres away from the town of Ramnagar is Mohan, and around fifteen kilometres away is the village Katkanoula, where Munshi Ram (if alive), will show you the place the Mohan man-eater was killed.
My heart goes out to all those simple, honest and poor people of the forest with whom I spent many happy days of my life and who provided me with a rich mine of information. It is these brave village folk of my country without whose cooperation my mission and work would have been incomplete.